Nigerian Court declares Sifax Group owners of Terminal ‘C’.
The controversial, running litigation between terminal operator; Sifax Group, operators of terminal ‘C’ at the Tin Can Island Port, and Messer Migfo and Denca has been put to rest as the Supreme court in Abuja last week declared Ports and Cargo Handling Services a subsidiary of Sifax group as the legal and rightful owners of the terminal ‘C’.
The Supreme Court had ruled at the Federal High Court inAbujathat the court did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the matter which was based on alleged simple contract between the parties and that it is not an admiralty matter.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos Tuesday, Sifax Director of Projects, Mr. Isaac Orolugbagbe explained that no sooner had Sifax commenced operation of the terminal ‘C’ of the tin can island port when Messer Migfo and Denca went to court to lay claims to being part owners of the terminal at the Tin Can Island Port.
According to him, the two companies relied on a non-existent joint venture agreement and a forged memorandum of understanding (MOU) purportedly entered by Denca, Migfo and Sifax in 2005 when the bidding process for the ports concession started. They had instituted a case against Sifax in year 2006 immediately the later won the bid for terminal C inLagos.
Orolugbagbe explained that Messer Migfo and Denca had went ahead to forge part of an MOU which was originally for the bidding of Terminal ‘A’ in Portharcourt, Rivers State under a consortium known as Ports and Terminal Operators Services Limited which was approved by the government, and that the company had presented this to the court in order to claim terminal C from its rightful owners.
He however stressed that the bid for terminal C was individually bided for and won by Ports and Cargo Handling Services Limited and that immediately the approval was given, Sifax had commenced operation in May 2006.
He admitted that the court case has recently caused a distraction in the company’s activities and that it has cost them a lot of money. Speaking he said “the legal cost is the least of it, it is the apprehension that is expensive, the customers were worried, our financiers and shareholders were worried, these are costs that we can not quantify, it has cost us millions of Naira, it has cost us lots of goodwill” he stressed.
Orolugbagbe however assured customers and other maritime stakeholders who recently have been apprehensive and worried as a result of the court case that the Port and Cargo Terminal will continue to offer them its efficient service delivery as the curtain on the legal tussle has been drawn.
He however reiterated that since Sifax group own 25% of the Terminal A in Portharcourt port which through the MOU is jointly owned by Sifax, Ekulo, Migfo and Denca, Sifax will now proceed to claim its percentage which it has not been monitoring since the beginning of the case.
According to him “Sifax Group owns 25% of terminal A in Portharcourt and there is no controversy about it, but because of the case in order not to lose focus, we have left them to be operating terminal A in Portharcourt, now we will enter there and claim our holding”
“The concession has been on but they have not been giving us reports of activities and the financial statement, but we are going to take action now for them to give account of their stewardship” he assured.